I've heard people recommend that you blanch them. That doesn't work. I've heard people say you should toast them. That doesn't seem to make a difference, either. Any ideas? Thank you. ;o)
I always toast them. I find that makes a difference.
I roast them at 350 until I smell them - about 10 minutes. It makes a difference in flavor, sweeter.
Is it possible that they're *too* fresh and insufficiently dried? When I lived in a house with a black walnut tree, I noticed the very fresh nuts were more bitter and tannic-tasting than ones that had cured a while. I'm guessing that the membrane around the nuts, which is very bitter, didn't come away as cleanly on the very fresh nuts.
Yes, sfmiller, now I am reminded of a family member with a large walnut tree and they always cured their walnuts first. Nothing complicated, just put them in the barn in burlap bags. The only one who ate walnuts without curing was the black lab, Lady. Every morning we would walk out on the porch and be treated to a pile of walnut shells!
I too have a black walnut tree and agree with sfmiller. The nuts do need to cure for a while before one uses them. This might be a case where "fresh" is not a virtue. ( (We don't get into the cracking enterprise here until winter.) I also agree with the toasters---it does mellow out the nuts. But then----maple walnut ice cream with black walnuts? Wow. Worth any suffering.
The bitteness comes from the iodine that walnuts contain. The very fresh milky ones are sweet, then right after that, when the skin begins to darken the bitterness is most concentrated, and it dissipates with time as iodine typically does. Do you buy yours already cracked? Try to leave them out to breathe for a week or so in a clean place as opposed to stored in a closed container. Some of the bitter notes will remain; they are just part of the flavor profile of that nut.
I'm confused if walnets are always bitter to you or just this batch. I have heard people complain about walnut bitterness but it is not unpleasant to me. Maybe you are a supertaster and have more tastebuds. When you toast them, rub them in a clean kitchen towel and more of the skin, which is more bitter, will be removed.